The Moment

When I posted Spring Updates I wasn’t sure if I’d be posting again about this prop, at least not until I had completed the costume to go with it. But that has been postponed for a smidge, so I think its time to share!

If you don’t recognize this prop, you probably didn’t see the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode. That’s okay! What you should know is that it’s central to the storyline, as its the most dangerous weapon in the universe, so dangerous that it has a conscience, who just so happens to appear as Billie Piper’s character Rose, or rather her image, but calling herself Bad Wolf. If you find that a reasonable thing, then you should definitely join the Whovians!

Anyway…

Last October I fell in love with a (relatively) new technology: LASER CUTTING!

And when I say fell, I mean I fell hard.

The panels of this prop were the 2-7th things I ever laser cut.

So I was completely new to Illustrator, but this project (and everything I’ve designed since) has taught me so much!

Back to the prop… I used photos found on the RPF (here and here) as references, and then designed all the sides. 5 of them were reasonable, since there would good references, but the one with all the Gallifreyan was more difficult. Only half-ish was ever visible, so I made a lot of fake Gallifreyan… Which was entertaining. And some of it looks reasonable, and others… Don’t. Luckily it’s only about 12 by 6 inches of ridiculous.

And I’ll probably be one of the few that cares.

I went on a week long “bender” of designing and laser cutting. I would design something one night, cut it out the next day, and then turn around and design the next one that night!

Then came time to take them all home and paint them. All the metallics are Jacquard Lumiere paints, and I used some cheap acrylic paint for other bits.  I think I had everything painted by December. And then my project brain stalled. (In January I found myself working 2 part time jobs, plus my grad school research so everything shut down. Like this blog, for the most part.)

In March, when things had mostly settled, I found myself with the inkling to get in the wood shop to make the frame. I ended up splitting two by fours for the final product, and creating an empty cube. I spent a lot of time sanding it down and trying to get many of the imperfections out. Some of the wood I had used had some kind of black paint on it, so I had to sand it down a lot in places.

Then I made the bad decision to wood burn the frame by hand. In the show prop, it was probably laser cut, but I wanted the deeper worn look. I spent 6 hours over 3 nights working on it (from 10pm to 12am) which was not my finest decision…

I borrowed some stain from a friend, and stained the entire thing, which was a kinda messy affair. My bathroom looked like a crime scene for a few hours. The stain was oil based Zar, in color Rosewood.

Then came Easter weekend. The laser cut panels were “installed,” meaning pressing them until they fit and attempting to glue them together cleanly. I had installed a small “door” into the corner of one of the sides, so I installed hinge hardware, and used some foam board leftover from a friend’s project to fill in some gaps between panels.

I was marathoning the project at this point, so I managed to get on Tinkercad and designed the corner caps, which are essentially 3 sides of a cube with a half sphere, and printed them. For a first 3D project, they turned out unexpectedly perfect! I primed each with some cheap primer spray paint and then painted the corners grey with acrylic paint mixed with some silver Lumiere paint. Then everything got glued together and I used a clear coat over everything, from the wood to the 3d to the laser cut stuff.

But this thing is huge. It’s bigger than the actual prop, and I can hardly hold it. So it takes up a remarkable amount of floor space. So I laser cut an acrylic topper, and I use it as a coffee table!

The intention was that this would be a prop useable for DragonCon, but as I said it is huge. I think it measures 16 inches cubed. I have trouble picking it up, due purely to the dimensions, though the weight would be a problem an hour in…

I’m thinking that it might be worth it to make a smaller one. I’ve only got two months, but I think I can cut down the working time to a two week period, if I do it again, since I know all the steps, and the only real thing I’ll have to buy is stain for the frame. I would definitely laser cut the frame though, before assembly, since it was way too much time to burn it by hand…

We’ll see what that idea comes to!

Weekend of Corsets

After I had completed the skirt for my Ariel costume, reality set in.

I knew I didn’t want to wimp out and not make a corset, and by this point I had already bought the fabric and the pattern and denim for the muslin. I used Laughing Moon’s 100 Victorian Underwear Dore Corset pattern, which I got from Truly Victorian here. This post by Truly Victorian helped me choose what size to start with and which corset to start with.

So here is the story of my weekend of corsets (embellished due to the fact that it was about 3 months ago and for artistic liberties):

other-side-frontThe Friday before DragonCon I grabbed the cut out pieces of the corset pattern(I had clipped them a few days before when I was in the mood to cut, but not carefully), and I carefully traced out a size, and cut it out of the denim. Did I not figure out that I should alternate directions of the pattern pieces so each side of the corset was one color? No I did not. Do I care very much? Nope! Gotta love underwear for that reason…

front-sideI sewed it up with one layer, and at first used a zipper in place of the busk at the front. It ended up being taken in a lot for the denim version, and I think this was mostly a combo because I am rather squishy around the tummy, so it was able to compress/move rather easily, and because the denim has some give. Not a lot, mind you, but a bit more wiggle room than I’d thought. And realistically I’m happier to “remove” fabric later than need more of it there. It is a heavy weight 100% cotton denim from Joann Fabrics, with a surprising amount of drape post-wash, but it’s pretty stable and thick.

I hadn’t yet finished the denim corset yet, since I didn’t have the grommet setting kit by that point, but I was able to alter the pattern for the Ariel corset.

asidefrontThen Saturday rolled around and I cut out the fabric for Ariel. I had gotten a yard of Yaya Han’s corset fabric from her line at Joann’s… By this point I was in Joann’s every other day or so. It’s a nice enough fabric. Lightweight but still strong and stable. Thin, though, very thin feeling. In the future I wouldn’t use it for corsets, since it did strain a bit under the pressure, causing some extra rippling in the already slight ripple sections, but it would be good as a tough non-stretch layer for support.

I had raised the top of the corset by two inches, and aimed for that round sweetheart shape, and I cut away some of the extra fabric from the bottom to give it a soft point at the bottom. Then I ended up altering this more once I had tested with just one layer of fabric, so I could try to get less of the stomach-fat-that-is-now-hip-fat look. (Spoiler alert: It only kinda worked.) I then sewed the second layers together for both corsets (each of self fabric), and inserted the busk to Ariel’s (I had forgotten to purchase another for Susan) and inserted a zipper for Susan’s.

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The boning was tricky, and the next step. I got all the boning from Bias Bespoke’s etsy shop, as well as my busks. I used spiral steel in the sides, and spring steel in the straighter front and back areas. To “cap” the ends, I dipped the bones in Plasti-Dip I got from Lowes. I should’ve done an extra dip on the end of all of them, but I got lazy and frantic about finishing.

I cut all the boning for both corsets at once, using bolt cutters and wire cutters. And then I’m pretty sure my friend conned me into going line dancing (**shivers**). So when I got home that night I was exhausted and crashed. On Sunday, I inserted the boning, and stitched the bindings on by hand. I threaded a length of Sugar and Cream yarn through the top of Susan’s so I could draw it more closed if necessary.

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The grommet setting tool had been delivered by this point, but I had forgotten to buy grommets with it, so when they arrived on Monday I inserted them into both corsets, after practicing on an old underbust corset that I used for my TARDIS costume.

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Oh, I definitely bought and inserted a busk into Susan after the con, which is why its there in the pictures. The zipper I used split every time I’d wear the costume, with only the tie and hook and eyes to hold it in, so I knew that a real busk was in order.

And that was my weekend of corsets! I don’t intend to have another such weekend, but they were pretty quick once I got rolling!

Ever take on two intimidating things in a weekend?

Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind

But, you know… In summer…

I love Miyazaki films so much, and one of my first introductions to his and Studio Ghibli’s works (other than My Neighbor Totoro which I rewatched over and over on VHS as a kid) was the Nausicaa graphic novels.

And then I was introduced to all the movies. But Nausicaa is still one of my favorites…

So when my friends and I decided to do a Miyazaki day, I jumped on the chance to make a Nausicaa outfit. For one thing, Nausicaa doesn’t wear heels, so I could get away without such silly shoewear, and also I could make her outfit out of knit fabrics.

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Yay for knits!

And then I realized that her full outfit would be really hot, and way too much work with about a week free before the con. So I decided to remove some items. And by some, I mean a lot.

The first item I made was some leggings using Cake Patterns’ Espresso pattern. I got this white rayon spandex knit from Joann Fabric’s. It doesn’t have a lovely amount of recovery, and its definitely translucent, but it worked well enough at the time. They certainly are warm and comfy!

Then I made the belt, mostly because I was not really looking forward to making the tunic. I got out some wide navy blue elastic, and this belt buckle I got from a trimming shop in New York City, and made the belt for my natural waist.

At some point in the last week pre-DragonCon, I decided to just go for it, and I created this new Closet Case Nettie hack (I made a muslin first, I promise!).

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The neckline was adjusted to swing upwards to create that cut-on collar look, which I estimated from the crew neck version of the pattern. Then I created a “slit” down the front for a few inches. This necessitated a lining or facing of some kind, which I ended up doing as a half lining (so a kind of glorified shelf bra without the elastic) to give it a clean finished edge.

The sleeves were one thing I debated over. I originally thought short sleeves because of summer, but if I ever wanted to reuse this costume for a more comprehensive Nausicaa outfit, the sleeves needed to be longer, so I went with elbow-3/4 sleeves.

You might remember (from a long time ago) that I wasn’t sure which version of Nausicaa I wanted to create. I ended up going with “normal,” where she has ammo holders where shirt pockets would normally be, rather than trying to applique a bird emblem, for which I just took rectangles of fabric and sewed them to the proper places with spaces for three tubes on either side.

When I realized that I needed to make ammo to put in the ammo holders, I stalled. The night before I left I pulled out some dowels that I had bought with other projects in mind, cut some pieces about chapstick size in length, and then glued three together at a time. When they were dry to the touch I mixed together some cheap red and yellow acrylic to create a nice orange and I painted all of them. I made six, but when I wore the costume I used an orange chapstick in one place, which is what is sticking out a bit… It was handy but also slippy and kept slipping out of place.

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Teto completed the look!

I’ve worn the tunic a few times now without costumes in mind, and I think it’ll get a lot of wear in winter. The leggings have gotten a few less wearings, but I am not the biggest fan of white clothing so it isn’t surprising. And Teto has been looking down on me from a bookcase, keeping me company!

Stay tuned for more on my Ariel costume, as well as some more TARDIS stuff! And some of those regular clothes things too. Lots of that.

Second Blue Skirt of the Summer

This skirt was produced in August, in the heat of my “Crap I’m not ready for DragonCon” frenzy, but in July I had raided the Hancock going out of business sale and gotten some blue seersucker…

It became a skirt, but really, it’s never going to be worn out of the house. Cute, mostly comfy, way too clingy.

This skirt unfortunately shares a bit of those adjectives, but not the right ones.

But first the background.

ariel-skirt-side-2

The fabric is a rayon from Joann’s that’s pretty opaque, but can be a bit transparent in certain lights. The one thing I didn’t take into account is that it’s more of a shirt weight, and is too drapey to be flattering in a skirt this long.

I created a pattern based off of the fabric I had (just over 2 yards), and made it as circle skirt-like as I possibly could. I drafted side seam pockets that also inserted into the waistband, which was magnificent foresight, since the fabric definitely would not have held side seam pockets on its own. And it has a side seam zipper as well, to add to the confusion.

arielskirt

Sewing it together was pretty quick, but the hem. I hemmed it by hand. which I think took 2.5 hours. I waited the requisite 2 ish days between sewing an hemming, but I still haven’t gotten it quite right…

Ankle length was what I was going for, because I wanted to show off my adorable heels, but I accidentally got it a little short, and now its a slightly awkward length…

The waistband is also a little too big, which currently is held together with a skirt hook and a safety pin, and the pockets ended up too low, in order to keep the skirt at a near ankle length…

So in short, it’s clingy, and comfy, but not terribly cute…

ariel-skirt-side-1

It definitely worked for DragonCon, with the corset over it (as shown in all these pictures), but when I wear it with normal shirts and stuff, I have to be careful not to show my lower stomach bump. It’s one of the reasons I don’t wear tight around the hips skirts much, and it shows a lot in this skirt.

So, now that I’ve regaled you with all the info on this skirt… I should tell you that I’m going to make this into something else. I’m thinking a shirt. I don’t think I can squeeze out an Archer, but I’m going to try!

ariel

I’m going to need to make another Ariel skirt, since I love this outfit in general, but I have to find a better fabric, and I’ll want to make as full a circle skirt as I can, for the floof factor.

Hope you all had a lovely Halloween/October!

My First DragonCon Recap

Why hello there, all you lovely readers!

It’s been a month since we last talked because… well…

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First there was last minute DragonCon prep. And then DragonCon itself. And then the firm unwillingness to let it go.

But the time has come. Here is the overly detailed tale of my adventure with my two friends Ollie and Jo!

Wednesday:

I had everything packed ahead of time, except for the last minute stuff and snacks. That does not mean that I actually got out of my house on time, but that’s something I’m working on. The drive down was dull, but reasonably short, excepting the hour of traffic I had waiting to drive through Atlanta on the highway. 17 miles away from the airport for half an hour, and then another half hour to drive those 17 miles. But I finally got there and picked up my friends and we settled into our AirBnB outside the city.

Thursday:

We got up kinda late and did a bit of work on last minute costuming finishes, and then went downtown to pick up our passes. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and then took one of the DragonCon Newbie tours, which was awesome and a lovely help, since we realized that getting off the MARTA would not necessarily require heading out to the street before the hotel. The walkthroughs were fantastic! Then we headed back to the house to finish most of the costume stuff we hadn’t done before. Oh, and we got arepas from this awesome local place called Arepa Mia which were fantastic and I’d definitely suggest going if you’re in the area.

Friday:

ariel

This was our Disney day. My friend Ollie went as Belle, since she had a costume from a few years ago Halloween that she wanted to reuse. Jo went as Meg from Hercules, and I went as Ariel from the Little Mermaid. I’ll go into detail on my costumes later, and unfortunately we didn’t get any group photos on any of the days, except for this selfie that I forced us to take to prove that we were in fact there together. And for posterity, etc. (If any pop up online, I’ll show them). Both Ollie and Jo got a lot of shout outs and photos, and I met an Ursula (and I totally had no idea what was going on when she came over… Definitely a running theme of my weekend). Also I definitely had someone ask if I was Anna from Frozen. May I mention that Anna does not have the monopoly on black bodices and blue skirts?

This was at the end of the day, so we were overwhelmed, tired, and so so happy!
This was at the end of the day, so we were overwhelmed, tired, and so so happy!

The first panel that we saw that weekend was the Legends of Tomorrow panel with Falk Hentschel and Casper Crump who were adorable. No lines for this one, we just walked right in. We tried to catch another DC television panel, but the line was huge, so we skipped it. We went to the first room of exhibitors which was overwhelming and exhausting… Outside of it, though, I got to meet my favorite blogger Jen of EPBOT and her husband, which was quite exciting. We went home, shed our hair extensions, heels (for two of us) and makeup, and we went out for pizza. Yummy yummy pizza!

Saturday:

tardis

I termed this our British media day. I wore my TARDIS outfit, newly revamped for the summer con, Ollie went as Clara Oswald, and Jo went as a Gryffindor headgirl (or maybe Lily Potter… It oscillated). So this was my second day in heels, but we were determined to see as much as we could. We got in a long line for the Flash/Arrow panel. It was nice to be in the shade of a building, mostly, but it was still nearly an hour of waiting… I got a lot of oohs and ahs from across walkways and the like of my costume, but few people got it until I turned around… I’m thinking of adding in a fascinator with the top lantern to help the effect.

I saw one of the cosplayers I admire, who I originally found through Peggy Carter cosplay research, KatarinaCosplay in her Captain Carter outfit (which is apparently from this game called Marvel Puzzle Quest, which I’m avoiding at all cost for fear of getting addicted…) and said hi briefly, but it was in the middle of the Marriott floor, so I didn’t stick around… And we were already late getting Ollie to the photo ops. The thing that was personally most squee-worthy for me on Saturday was going to the Walk of Fame and Allison Scagliotti’s line was almost completely empty, so I jumped in and got my Warehouse 13 Farnsworth signed… I’ve learned so much since I made it, but it’s still one of my first props and I would have always kept in a special place in my heart, but now even more!

osgood

Right outside an Osgood found me (which I totally didn’t realize she was Osgood, because I’m silly), and we took a couple of pictures! We had dinner at the food court, then headed home to change before going back to Atlanta for the Heroes and Villains Ball. At this point my feet really hated me, so I changed into my Kaylee. I think we were all glad we went and tried it out, but it wasn’t something that any of us really needed to stay too long at so we about-faced and headed back home.

Sunday:

susan

This was my third day in heels and also our most panel-intensive day. Jo went as a casual Barbara “Babs” Gordon, Ollie went as Arya from Game of Thrones, and I wore my Susan Pevensie costume. We started our day at the Torchwood panel where we sat next to this awesome steampunk Ood. It was entertaining to look to the side and see an Ood nearly bending in half laughing. Because we all spent nearly the entire time laughing! Then we got in line for the Pond Family Reunion panel, which had already wrapped nearly all the way around the building before we even got there almost an hour and a half early. This time we were on the sunny side of the building, which was not the most fun, but the panel was worth it! Jo split off before the PFR panel to go to a Welcome to Night Vale panel, and after our panel Ollie and I headed to the Warehouse 13 panel which was hilarious!

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During the course of the day, Ollie found a lovely Sansa to have a “reunion” with, and all of the GoT group she was with loved Ollie’s costume. I saw both a White Witch in full battle regalia from the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, and a Susan in her green dress from the same movie. It was great seeing the Narnia family representing! After the Warehouse panel I was feeling a bit panic-attacky and all of us were getting tired, so we headed home. One of my favorite moments, though, was on the MARTA platform, when I was in the middle of removing as much as I could without losing things or revealing anything untoward, a young girl that was part of a non-DragonCon-attending family taking the same train as us told me that she really liked my dress. It’s one thing to get compliments from other costumers and cosplayers and fans of the fandom, but another to get them from a young girl who might one day group up to be a fan of the same thing, or her own favorite things and perhaps get dressed up herself. Oh, and we got pizza again. Because it was fantastic. I’d definitely recomment Fellini’s Pizza in Decateur GA.

Monday:

nausicaa

Last day of the con, and very few people were dressed up, so we stuck out even more. Which was nice. We did our Miyazaki group cosplay that day. I went as a summer-ish appropriate Nausicaa (with Teto!), Jo as Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ollie as Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service. Jo and Ollie were both instantly recognized by almost everyone, and they got lots of pictures. One of the first people we met that day recognized me and that made my day, since I was happy to be in sandals instead of heels and not corseted, so I had made up my mind early in my designing process that I wouldn’t even care if I was recognized. I was going to be comfy. A lot of people asked for pictures in all sorts of configurations of the three of us, which was cool.

Jo and I attended the Everyday Steampunk panel, which was full of great ideas, then caught up with Ollie for the final Legends of Tomorrow Panel of the weekend. No lines for either and we even sat in the first row of the Legends panel, because the lady in charge of seating liked our costumes. We then toured the exhibitor’s hall again, and I picked up a wooden sword and a lovely prop dagger with a lion on the hilt.

We parted with Hollyn who headed to the airport, and then drove back to my place.

All in all, it was a fantastic first convention, and definitely one that I’d like to attend again. In fact, I’ve been debating whether to buy next year’s ticket now…

I’ll start posts soon on the costume elements that I haven’t shown you yet, and soon I should be working on Cinderella and some non-costume sewing!

derpface

But I will leave you, in the meantime, with a derpy picture of me in my Ariel costume… Because that’s how I roll!

Tale of Three Plushies

trio

Not only are my two bestest buddies joining me on my DragonCon adventure, but we’re doing two group cosplays, and a couple of weeks ago I had the most adorable idea…

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Nausicaa is not exactly the most recognizeable character, and because I’m really not a wig person, and I didn’t have time or cash to learn, I wanted to have at least one real prop for her. So I wanted to make a Teto plush. And then I realized that my two friends (going as Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, and Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service) could also have plushes! And that I could make them! Because I’m insane like that.

Jiji2

I worked on the Jiji plush first. Jiji is Kiki’s companion, a sarcastic black cat that travels with Kiki when she moves away from home. I asked if my friend wanted to hold him, or if she wanted him to sit on her shoulder, and she chose the first option. So I made him a little oversized. It’s hard to tell from the reference pics I was using, since I don’t own the movie, but I think he’s technically a rather small cat, but the plush I made was more of a large cat. He’s the biggest of the three plushes, but since he’s black against a navy dress, I wanted to make sure he could stand out. The plush also looks much more like the toy cat in the movie, but I think the point gets across well. Plus mouths are hard…

Jiji1

In fact I avoided the mouth completely… I ended up embroidering the eyes and nose, which took much longer than I expected, and then free forming the plush. Take it in a little here, and out a little there, add some more stuffing there and not here, etc. And I ended up with a loveable Jiji… until I realized I forgot the tail. And then once I remembered and added it, I ended up with a loveable Jiji!

calcifer1

The second plush was Calcifer, since I wanted to get the plushes for friends out first… Calcifer is a fire demon that is under a contract with Howl, but really becomes best of friends with Sophie, so I thought he’d be better than Turnip Head, who I also briefly considered. I had this reddish wool coating ( I think) and attempted to make a 3D version. I intended to make the bottom perfectly round, using 4 panels, but it ended up a little boxier… I cut the top of the four panels to look like flames, and attempted to use a “facing” to make it a bit cleaner… and then had to hand sew the top shut.

calcifer2

Then I painted the plush with some acrylic paints. Mostly yellow, since it “melted” into the wool like orange… I gave it two layers, one that went around the majority of the plush, and then a second to give the appearance of the “core.” And then I let it dry for ages, before adding puffy paint eyes. Once the puffy paint dried, I painted on the mouth and the irises. Isn’t he adorable? He’s not particularly cuddly, but I don’t think fire should be cuddly… right?

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So I then got started on Teto. He was the only one I actually bought fabric for, since I didn’t have fake fur or brown felty fleece, so I know for a fact that he’s made out of poly fleece. with poly fake fur. He’s an imaginary creature called a fox-squirrel, and has always been my favorite character in Nausicaa. I basically made tubes for the body and legs, and lightly shaped them into submission. Then I free handed the head and tail, and then shaped the ears. The ears are held up in part by cardboard inserts, and also by some clear fishing line attached to a hook and eye to the tail so the ears can either stick straight up or flop down when I want them to.

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The darker brown on the body is stitched on, as is the faux fur belly. The bib-like structure is lightly stitched, but the bottom is mostly left free to hang and move. The eyes are some green knit interfaced and then hand sewn to the head. Then I drew and painted on some high and lowlights. He’s designed to sit over my shoulder, which he does pretty well, and I’m terribly pleased with how he came out…

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And here ends the tale of three plushies! Do you have a favorite animated sidekick?